Friday, 26 May 2017

sabbatical

We here at PfRC are taking a short leave-of-absence—or at least a reduction in posting frequency, over the next few days for some housekeeping and a short but much needed vacation. Stayed tuned for more adventures same time, same station.

böse, sehr böse

With truly surpassing bravado and despite attempts to demonstrate to him otherwise, Dear Leader insists on his false narrative that all other NATO members are dead-beats for not honouring the members’ dues—as if this were his tacky White House in the swamp—which is not the case as these proportional contributions do not go into effect for a few years yet and western European members participate in ways far more constructive than maintaining standing armies.
There’s enough military-spending and posturing as it is. Over these imagined short-falls, Dear Leader intimated that the US would begrudge holding up member-states’ mutual defence pact, having already demonstrated his zest for throwing Montenegro under the bus and we’re left to wonder what other former Soviet-satellite might share a similar faith. The other twenty-seven NATO members seemed rather bemused to be scolded—including Germany which received a special chiding over its perceived trade imbalance with the US—too many German cars flooding the market. Apparently Jean-Paul Junckers’ stamina had not been totally spent on trying to teach Theresa May some expectation management and tried to make Dear Leader’s misapprehension a sort of an object lesson in the way the other bloc on the continent, the European Union, operates—offering that Germany as a member does not set manage its export targets and no country can enter into a tariff agreement with another. Never mind that a lot of these automobiles are built in US factories.  For his part Dear Leader would like to see supranational institutions like the EU demolished because the US has better leverage over individual countries than over broader unions and has publicly backed politicians who want to weaken the EU’s powers.

she’s got electric boots, a mohair suit


Singer, song-writer duo Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin have collaborated with several film-makers to produce music videos to three of their iconic songs over forty years after their initial release. Go to this link to see all three songs—the others being Rocket Man and Tiny Dancer, other numbers like Crocodile Rock achieved perfection already with a guest appearance on the Muppet Show—and learn about their production and choreography, which in the featured video reminded me of the Triadic Ballet of the Bauhaus movement.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

confederados

During the US Civil War (1861-1865), the Confederate States of America ran a side campaign to realise colonial expansion into Central and South America. Southern imperialists called filibusters or freebooters raised militias in order to destabalise the Mexican government and foment revolt so piecemeal the country might be more easily taken.
When Emperor Napoleon III seized Mexico in 1863, the Confederacy seemed to have the perfect pretence for liberating the country, which would be indebted to those who freed them from the yoke of the French. Prosecuting the war with the Union took up all their resources, however. After the Confederacy was defeated, some Southerners realised their imperial ambitions after a fashion when having lost significant portions of their land-holdings they fled as refugees across the border and established settlements in many Latin American countries and in Brazil—where enslavement was still legal at the time before being outlawed in 1888, that still bear the name Americana and New Texas (parts of São Paulo, by leave of Emperor Dom Pedro II), New Virginia (located between Mexico City and Veracruz and tolerated by Emperor Maximillian II until he was executed by revolutionaries in 1867) and several outposts in British Honduras (modern-day Belize) that retain to varying degrees their exported heritage.

noforn or eyes-only

Not only has Dear Leader exhibited to the world his gross incompetence when it comes to diplomatic discretion and his inability to let an opportunity to humble-brag (or outright brag) pass by in showing off in front of a Russian delegation and then publically confirming the source of that intelligence or by disclosing top-secret submarine manœuvres in Korean waters to the Filipino dictator for no apparent reason, the distrust and toxicity that his regime has engendered all the way down the hierarchy has repositioned leaks and whistleblowing to the fore, whereas this had formerly been the option of last resort once all other avenues were exhausted. How easy would it be to trick Dear Leader?  There are rumours that his staffers in the White House feed him news articles of questionable provenance throughout the day.  The regime has done nothing outside of threats and intimidation to instil confidence or loyalty but these leaks also materially damage the reputation and trust of partner states—including the UK’s politically independent interior ministry. After US security services leaked the name of the perpetrator of Monday night’s horrific attack on a concert venue in Manchester to the press, potentially compromising other leads, before the UK was prepared to do so, authorities behind the investigation have suspended intelligence sharing with America. With the credibility of the US already suffering, it cannot afford to lose the faith of its allies as well.

virtuosi

Author and polymath Robert Twigger has recently completed his latest work which seeks to dislodge and disabuse from some of our assumptions about the innate or inchoate nature of talent and how it might be fostered by encouraging us to pursue micro-mastery.
Rather than positing some natural or nurtured advantage, other cultures take the approach that a skill-set can be learned to perfection—informed by the Japanese method of imparting martial arts, calligraphy and other ceremonies, we should challenge ourselves to make that prize omelette or mix the perfect martini. What are some master-classes you would be happy to proctor? We have access to the whole of human wisdom at our finger tips, essentially, but we’re probably not made exactly to learn from staring at screens and ought to be willing to throw our whole lumbering bodies into the task of honing up on some new core-competencies.